FOOTBALL: IT was another frustrating afternoon for Valley at Butlin Road on Saturday, when the hosts were held to a goalless draw against Lye Town, writes Jon Venner.
Sam Belcher’s missed penalty in the opening minutes was the forerunner to further exasperation in front of goal for Town, although Lye did offer some threat themselves in what was a reasonably even contest.
Belcher’s first start in eleven matches represented the only change to the side that had beaten Shawbury four days earlier, with the injured Trey Brathwaite missing out and Josh Thornton switching to a full-back role.
Rugby’s early spot-kick came after Brad Drew slid through the back of Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, but Belcher could only blast the ball off the top of the crossbar.
The visitors responded quickly though, with Jack Till nearly making a telling contact to Sam Tye’s whipped-in cross.
A well-worked Town move then almost broke the deadlock at the other end, when David Kolodynski and Wiggins-Thomas combined well to set-up Chadd Birch – who dragged his shot just wide.
Lye’s Chris Knight also pulled an effort marginally the wrong side of the target, ahead of the lead up to the half-time interval when the home side put in their best spell of the game.
Within that dominant patch, Ben Ashby blazed over after playing a neat one-two with Wiggins-Thomas and Lye keeper Tom Turner parried a decent strike from Aiden Print, after the full-back had cut in from the left.
Having ended the first half on top, it took Town a while to get into their stride after the restart, and it was the visitors that carved out the first three openings of the new period.
Niall Cooper was down well to deny Knight with a fine one-handed save, Scott Gennard had an on-target shot blocked and then Till went the closest when he fired one off the bar after he had got in behind the Valley defence.
Rugby finally regained the initiative after a double substitution on 65 minutes saw the introduction of Harry Holloway and Fabian Smith.
Wiggins-Thomas was soon missing a good opportunity to open the scoring when Ashby’s ball over the top saw him break free, but he put his strike too close to Turner.
Turner was also equal to Josh Ruff’s powerful shot from distance, and in the final chance of the game Holloway’s determined run led to him picking out Kolodynski, but the striker could only shoot wide.